Written by James Scherer
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Want to Hack Growth? Here are 13 Tips to Get you Rolling

Want to grow your business online?

Awesome. Let's do it.

This article will break down 13 specific strategies we've used (or seen used) to great effect to grow business online. Lead generation, lead nurturing, site optimization, it's all here and more.

Growth Tip #1: Use Click Popups to Make Conversion Super Easy


Click popups have, in many ways, replaced much of the need for squeeze pages. Every time you would currently create an opt-in web page devoted to a single conversion goal (email-gated content, webinar, conference, blog subscription, etc), use a click popup instead.

Why?

  • They’re easier, and far faster, to create and duplicate
  • They keep your website traffic in one place
  • They make conversion seem less intimidating



And here’s the results from 14 of Wishpond’s click popups (prompting users to provide their email address to download a content upgrade) vs 14 of Wishpond’s landing pages (prompting users to provide their email address to download an ebook).

growth tips

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “3 Lead Generating Click Popups in Action


Growth Tip #2: Auto-select Form Fields to Improve Navigation


I’m happiest when growth isn’t dependent on a developer’s time. Strategies implementable without a coder or hours of me learning how to be one with online tutorials are A-OK in my book.

This is one of those tips.

In general, anything you can do to make your website simpler, more intuitive, is worth doing. I can’t tell you how many A/B tests we’ve run in an attempt to “dumb down” a visitor’s interaction with our platform.

But no test was as influential as adding a single line of code to our site which out-selects the form of our signup page:

Basically when someone came to our signup page, the box for them to fill out an email address was be already selected - all they had to do was start typing.

It changed the form from the image on the left to the one on the right:

hack growth

By the time the test had reached 95% statistical significance, the variation beat out the control by about 45%. And remember this was on our signup page - it was hugely influential on our bottom-line.

To implement this strategy within a Wishpond landing page, simply don’t change anything. “Auto-focus on first form field” is automatically enabled on our landing pages (as it’s such a consistent optimization winner).

growth tips

To do it within a page of your Wordpress site, you first need to make sure jquery is loaded. Then head to the post-editor and add…

<script>$('input[type=email]').focus();</script>

If I can implement this strategy, anybody can.

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “5 Genuine Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks We've Seen Work


Growth Tip #3: Automate the Human Touch with an Oops or “Forgot to Attach” Email


This growth tip is a bit on the aggressive side, but it increased our link-conversion rates by about 400%, and numbers is numbers, people.

An “oops” or “forgot-to-attach” email is a strategy within email automation designed to replicate human error. Essentially, this very effectively conceals the fact that you’re using automation at all.

There’s two pieces to this:

  • Firstly, send a lead-nurturing email in which you prompt recipients to check out two pieces of content (two articles, two videos, two podcasts, etc). Deliberately leave out one of the links you refer to in the email body.
  • 1-10 minutes later, send a follow-up email which apologizes for the forgotten link and includes it.

growth tips When we a/b tested this strategy (half a lead-nurturing mailout was sent with both links and half was sent with an “oops” email sent 12 minutes after the initial email), open rates and clickthrough remained about the same, but conversion on the link (registration for our free marketing academy) increased by about 400%.

growth tips

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “17 Knockout Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customers (with Infographic)


Growth Tip #4: Quickly Create Content Upgrades to Boost Blog Subscription by 1000%+


A content upgrade is a lead generating incentive (generally placed on an individual blog post) which provides readers with an “upgrade” to the exact content they’re reading.

On the Wishpond blog we’ve used them for the past couple months to generate blog subscribers, and they’ve increased our conversion rates by about 1000%. (Source).

The trick is to avoid spending a prohibitively expensive amount of time creating your content upgrades. Here are a few ideas…

  • A list of tools and resources related to your article
  • Additional, “how-to” content related to the article’s subject:
  • Transcript of visual or audio content
  • A checklist to assist readers in completing the how-to article
  • A downloadable asset (email templates, landing page templates, “how to pitch this strategy” templates, etc)
  • Hardcopy/PDF of the article
  • Bonus content not included in the original article

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “How we Used Content Upgrades to Increase Email Opt-ins 16X


Growth Tip #5: Hide Retargeting Cookies for 45 Seconds to Avoid Wasting Money


Retargeting can be a fantastic strategy to recapture lost traffic or leads. More and more, your prospective customers are shopping around. They’re looking at you and your competitors with a critical eye, searching for something which makes you stand out. It could be price, quality, customer service, the look of your website or, very simply….

How often they see your brand name.

Brand recognition is absolutely key in online marketing. It’s one of the most powerful psychological factors which effect us all (even though we don’t know it).

Why do you think no-name brands have to charge so much less for identical products? Exactly.

But, you can’t just dive into retargeting, and there’s one best practice which will save you more money than any other:

Because most webpages have between a 50 and 90% bounce rate, targeting every site visitor with a retargeting campaign means you’re wasting 50-90% of your ad spend.

Let me repeat that, unless you implement a “hide pixel” code within your webpage, you’ll be wasting as much money as your bounce rate.

I recommend about 30-45 seconds (check your Google Analytics to see your average bounce rates as well as time-on-page). Less and you run the risk of wasting ad budget; more and you run the risk of missing people who are interested, but still left relatively soon after arriving on the page.

Adding the pixel with a 45 second delay should look something like this:

<script src="http://code.jquery.com/jquery-1.11.2.min.js"></script>  
<script>  
   function Inject() {
      $('body').append("<img src='http://tracking.acmebusiness.com/open?sid=MTZfMzQ2Nl8yNF83MTA2' width='1' height='1' border='0' style='position:absolute; left: -10000px;'>");
   }
   // run script after 45 sec.
   window.setTimeout(Inject, 45000);
</script>  

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “17 Knockout Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customers [Infographic]


Growth Tip #6: Use Loss Aversion Psychology to Onboard Leads


Let’s say that when you find $100, your happiness goes up 10 points. If you lose $100, your happiness should go down 10 points, right?

You’d think, but you’d be wrong. People are far more impacted by loss than they are by gain.

We call this “Loss Aversion” and it’s a useful thing to keep in your marketing back pocket.

growth tips

Loss aversion works fantastically within the free trial and freemium space when you’re looking to upgrade leads to a paid plan. Rather than framing your emails in terms of “you only have 10 days left in your free trial” consider framing them in terms of loss. For instance:

"10 days until you lose access to Wishpond’s lead-generating platform!" "10 days before we have to block your login details!" "10 days before the 50% discount goes away!"

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “The Ultimate Guide to the Psychology of Conversion Optimization


Growth Tip #7: Use Liquid Code to Optimize Emails


Sometimes, of course, growth is less about strategies or psychology and more about implementing the newest idea first.

That’s where Liquid comes in. It’s actually a coding language invented by Shopify a few years ago, but it’s only recently being introduced into the rest of the marketing world.

Liquid allows you to dynamically change the content of your emails depending on what you know about recipients.

It’s an “if/then” language enabling you to change entire sentences or sections.

For instance, {% if user.name = ’James’%} Hi James! {% else} Hey there! {% endif %}

This would allow me to send an email to hundreds of people but only say “Hi James” to people whose first names are James.

As you might be able to guess, this is only the beginning of implementing Liquid.

In the past couple months Wishpond has started using Liquid to personalize welcome emails, and we've seen awesome results.

We switched up the emails to include a link to a course based on what each individual lead had most recently engaged with.

For example, if a lead has logged in and created a sweepstakes, we automatically send them an email with a link to a course on “How to build a sweepstakes”. If they’ve created a referral promotion, we automatically send them a link to the referral promotion course. Etc, etc.

After the standard “Hope this email finds you well” stuff, here’s the content pitch:

{% if customer.interests = ‘Sweepstakes’ %} Check out how to create your Sweepstakes with this short step-by-step course: http://learn.wishpond.com/courses/how-to-create-a-sweepstakes {% elsif customer.interests = ‘Referral promotion %} Check how to create your Referral Promotion with this short step-by-step course: http://learn.wishpond.com/courses/how-to-create-a-referral-promotion {% else %} Simply check out our user guides here: http://learn.wishpond.com/collections/user-guide {%endif %}

Etc, etc.

This personalization improved our email click-through rates by about 76%.

A few ideas for how to use Liquid in your own emails:

  • If you have international target markets, use Liquid to dynamically alter the text based on language.
  • Days of the week: {% if date: "%A" == "Friday" %} Have a great weekend! {% else %} Best wishes, {% endif
  • How they interacted with the platform: “Congratulations! You’ve created [12 landing pages] with Wishpond and generated [2,174] leads. Nicely done!”
  • Credit card expiry: “your credit card expires in [27 days] and should be updated”

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “17 Knockout Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customers [Infographic]


Growth Tip #8: Post-Signup Pages


This is the simplest strategy here, but also an important thing to remember:

Your lead is at their hottest right after they’ve initially converted.

They’ve just provided you with their email address. They’ve committed to conversion, so (if you do it right) a second conversion just feels like an extension of the first.

This is why the post-signup page is such a crucial step within your sales funnel.

At Wishpond we use this strategy on our post sign up pages to offer a free account to anyone that downloads one of our ebooks.

landing page examples

By phrasing our free trial offer as "step 2" of the page, it feels like the natural progression of events to first download the book and then sign up for a trial.

Checklist for Optimizing a Post Sign Up Page for Conversion:

  • Use arrows as a directional cue
  • Use bright coloured CTAs
  • Frame it as the next step in the process

Other ideas for a second conversion:

  • Webinar registration
  • More advanced ebook (send to new landing page/click popup which prompts them to provide more profile-building information)
  • Blog subscription
  • Free trial
  • VIP Demo
  • 10% coupon or other, “limited-time” discount

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “17 Knockout Growth Hacks to Nurture Leads into Customers [Infographic]


Growth Tip #9: Dynamically Change your Landing Page based on Ad Copy


This one’s exciting, and one of the most effective growth strategies in this article if you can get it right.

Perhaps you know that Javascript is the coding language characterized by its ability to (among other things) personalize a webpage based on information you say is important.

We’ve recently added Javascript to our product landing pages which changes the headlines based on which Google Ad they clicked on to arrive on the page.

We have a few ads running, one for “Facebook Sweepstakes,” one for “Facebook giveaway,” and one for “Facebook promotion.” All of these ads sends visitors to the same same landing page, but their “destination URLS” aren’t identical.

Each ad’s destination URL includes parameters based on search keywords. So, when someone types “facebook sweepstakes” into Google, the ad that pops up directs them to “www.wishpond.com?q=sweepstakes”. Similarly, when they type “Facebook giveaway”, the ad directs them to “www.wishpond.com/?q=giveaway.”

These small code changes trigger corresponding code in the product landing page to change. Essentially, if the landing page sees “q=sweepstakes,” the headline will read “Facebook Sweepstakes Made Simple” or something similar.

The Javascript looks like this:

if (window.location.search.indexOf('type=lp' > -1) {  
   $('header span').text('Landing Page');
if (window.location.search.indexOf('type=sweeps' > -1) {  
   $('header span').text('Sweepstakes');
if (window.location.search.indexOf('type=photo' > -1) {  
   $('header span').text('Photo Contest');
}

Alternatively you could just create new landing pages for each of your Google Ads (and that’s also a growth tip).

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “5 Genuine Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks We've Seen Work


Growth Tip #10: Create a 6 Email Drip Campaign to Nurture Leads


There’s no point in spending money on advertising if your website isn’t prepared to receive it. And there’s no point in optimizing your website if you’re not sending traffic to it. These two marketing rules of thumb have defined the way I market for the past year or so.

Alongside them, though, there’s another essential rule to keep in mind: there’s no point in getting excited about how many leads you’re generating if none of them are becoming customers.

That’s where lead nurturing comes in: the act of (slowly but surely) “nurturing” your lead into a customer with educational and subtly promotional content via email.

Here’s my 7 step strategy for lead nurturing (and it starts a bit earlier than you might think):

  1. Write 5 to 7 blog articles on a single subject, from foundational to advanced. For instance, “The Basics of Landing Page Creation” to “7 Advanced Conversion Optimization Strategies for your Landing Page.”
  2. Repurpose these articles into a PDF (check out my article The Ebook Design Kit for Marketers who Can't Design for S**t for a how-to guide.
  3. Create a squeeze page to email-gate access to your PDF ebook.
  4. Create a segment of people who download the ebook - people you know are interested in the ebook’s subject within your email marketing platform or CRM.
  5. Create 6 emails: 4 built around repurposed educational content not in the ebook but still related to the subject of it, 1 built around educating but also promotion (case study, “how-to” strategy with your tools, etc), and 1 built offering a VIP demo, free trial or paid conversion.
  6. Schedule these emails to be delivered to the lead every few days (the first a few minutes after their initial conversion).
  7. Create a “catch-all” segment (usually a newsletter segment) for leads who don’t convert on your final sales email. Don’t let your leads fall through the cracks just because they weren’t ready to convert when you wanted them to.

To learn more about this growth hack, check out “How to Create Email Drip Campaigns to Nurture Leads


3 Startup Growth Tips That Worked For Us


Growth Tip #11. Focus on the top and middle of the funnel equally There is no point in spending considerable time and money driving traffic to a website not optimized to receive it.

Equally, there is no point in spending considerable time and money optimizing a website if nobody’s ever going to see it.

The two must be done equally.

We do it campaign by campaign: ensure that for every Facebook or Google Ad we create, every blog article or webinar we promote, there is a landing page ready to receive clicks and a lead-nurturing campaign beyond it ready to turn leads into sales.

When I think of the term “best practice,” this is it.

Growth Tip #12. Focus on high-impact A/B tests

Testing CTA button color rarely launches your business into the Fortune 500, and your traffic isn’t big enough to get conclusive results at any speed for smaller-impact tests.

When you’re a startup, you gotta act like one. Try big things to optimize for conversions or you’ll still be in your garage this time next year.

A few monumental A/B test ideas:

  • Homepage headline changes. Redefine what makes you unique/your value proposition
  • Halve or double the length of your home pages to simplify your pitch or expand value
  • Add professional videos to your landing pages
  • Change your pricing/plans page, creating a free plan and having users upgrade to paid. Changes to your pricing/plans page, in general, are usually a big deal.
  • Add signup to your blog. Try a large scroll popup bar.

Growth Tip #13. Focus on short meetings and long test periods

If you’re business is focused on growth, you’re not a corporate entity. Don’t pretend you are.

Meet once a week to discuss optimizations. Keep the meeting under an hour and then follow-up throughout the week if necessary. Come up with good ideas, quickly. Briefly break down those which are terrible, and then implement 5 - 15 of the ones that aren’t (depending on resources and traffic).

Remember, though, that unless you have significant site traffic, you’re not going to have conclusive results from any of your tests for at least a few weeks. Don’t call something conclusive just because it looks like it’s leaning one way.

Wait until you’re at 95% statistical probability and then wait a few days more.

Toppest Bonus Tip of them All:

Wishpond has a spreadsheet with a couple dozen growth and optimization strategies we want to test. Next to each idea are three columns: Confidence, Impact, and Ease of Implementation. We give each idea a rating from 1-10 for each of these factors and implement the ones with the greatest cumulative rating. It’s a great structure, and has done wonders for our optimization efforts.


Wrapping it Up


Hopefully these 13 strategies have given you a few ideas for growing your business online. If you have any questions, coding or otherwise, don’t hesitate to ask away in the comment section. I’ll be around.

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Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.